The ADS-B Waiting Game

Upgrading your airplane Gary Rosier

So let me guess. You still haven't equipped your airplane for ADS-B. With the calendar about to flip from 2015 to 2016 – and with the FAA mandate still stubbornly set for Jan. 1, 2020 – you're starting to feel a little squeamish. You know you should install mandate-compliant ADS-B gear (including a WAAS GPS position source and antenna if you don't have one already) but you're reluctant to act. What if the mandate is delayed? What if a better, cheaper option comes along?

If you've already upgraded your airplane for ADS-B, congratulations. Your worries are behind you, and you're probably already enjoying some of the benefits of ADS-B, such as traffic and weather data if you also have an ADS-B In solution.

If you haven't yet upgraded, let me make a couple of not-so-bold predictions that might affect your decision-making. There won't be a delay to the ADS-B mandate. The needed avionics products exist today and the FAA announced the start date long ago. If you decide to wait until the last minute only to find that avionics shops are full and hardware is on backorder, you'll have only yourself to blame.

The good news is, 2016 is the perfect time to start thinking seriously about ADS-B. Sometime in the next year (or two at the most) you should decide on a solution, purchase the hardware you need and schedule your installation. There won't be any benefit to waiting longer, and there could be some drawbacks to delaying your decision.

If you're worried about what ADS-B will cost, do your research now and start setting aside money so you'll be ready to upgrade well ahead of the deadline. The sooner your ADS-B decisions are behind you, the better you'll feel on Dec. 31, 2019, while other pilots are wondering why they waited so long.


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